Sunday 17 December 2017

Front bench line-up exposes flawed FF electoral strategy

James Downey

James Downey

THEY used to say that a picture was worth a thousand words. The picture of Micheal Martin and his 'frontbench' which appeared in this newspaper on Tuesday, spread across pages 16 and 17, was worth 10 times that.

It conveyed half a dozen different messages, addressed to different recipients. Mostly they were aimed at the general body of voters, or Fianna Fail loyalists, or both. But some were more specific, and their meanings were unmistakable.

If you care to dig it up and scrutinise it, you will see at the end of the front row the super-rebel John McGuinness. Here, the message is obviously aimed at Brian Cowen. McGuinness quarrelled with Cowen and with Mary Coughlan; Cowen demoted him. While he brooded on the backbenches, he wrote a book containing many sensible ideas for reform of the bureaucracy and advocating the establishment of a "new Fianna Fail". Now, as Martin's spokesman on small business, he has got his wish, at least in part.

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